How many of us ‘support’ cycling teams? You know, as you would with a football team in the vein of ‘my team are the best and I’ll bite your ear off if you say otherwise’. Certainly in the past this was a very rare thing – people ‘followed’ the sport and idolised individual riders irrespective of what team they rode for. I was (well, still am) a big fan of Chris Boardman: mainly because he was the one of the few English speaking riders at the time but I’d struggle to recall many of the other GAN riders of that period. I had a little GAN casquette, but I had it because Boardman rode for them rather than in support of the whole team.
My perception is that this has changed recently. I ‘liked’ a Facebook page for Team Sky a couple of years back and then ‘unliked’ it pretty quickly because of the awful vitriol that was pasted on it. Somebody would question the performance or selection of a rider and then be told ‘this is a fan page, if you’re not a fan then push off’ only with more expletives. My epiphany came when somebody claiming to be British Army sniper threatened to shoot somebody questioning a riders performance. Harsh I thought. Every now and again a wife or partner of one of the riders would appear and unleash hell as well. Actually on reflection maybe I should re ‘like’ it … J
So, for the time being, I’m going to carry on following the sport and looking out for individual riders that grab my imagination. Having said that, the prospect of seeing a group of Astana fans take on a load of half cut Dutch Rabobank fans on the Alpe d’Huez whilst chanting ‘you’re going home in a Kazakhstani ambulance’ is too tempting for words isn’t it…?
Rich Smith is the author of ReCycled. An extraordinarily funny book about cycling and other less important things like life and death.